We’re now halfway through summer 2013 and looking ahead to this fall and winter – including ASPA’s annual conference in Washington DC that kicks off March 14, 2014 and several ground-breaking international exchanges aimed at promoting good governance worldwide. But first, a comprehensive follow-on to the Section for Public Management Practice’s pre-conference forum in New Orleans earlier this year – Sustainable Governance in a Post-Recovery Environment: Improving Public Services in New Orleans since 2005.
When Disaster Planning Reaches a Wicked Level
In his peer-reviewed article “Confronting the Wicked Problem: Disaster Planning in Post-Katrina New Orleans,” Billy Fields attempts to summarize for us the complex set of forces that converge to make this challenge a monumental public management undertaking. He notes this short treatment provides a conceptual sketch for understanding the larger Katrina wicked problem frame. It is designed to provide a broad map to the large challenges faced by public managers during the eight years of the post-disaster recovery period. As this is a broad analysis, it draws heavily from the multiple strands of scholarship examining issues from housing recovery to wetlands ecology. This broad approach has the advantage of capturing the multiple, cross-cutting issues required to build long-term resilience for the region. His goal is to provide an introductory primer on the broad scope of issues that pushed at public managers engaged in the disaster response. A comprehensive account of each area is beyond the scope of this primer. Although, readers are urged to refer to the citations provided throughout as a guide to the detailed scholarship on the rebuilding challenges.
From New Orleans in 2005 to planet Earth in 2015, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) is promoting “resilient cities” as one of its top global priorities in the post-2015 development agenda. This renewed emphasis comes from their experience of working closely with both capital cities and small municipalities and the feedback from many mayors and local governments around the world. The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN) has set out ten goals in an Action Agenda for Sustainable Development, one of which – Goal 7 — is to “empower inclusive, productive and resilient cities.” One suggested target is to ensure the integration of “climate and disaster resilience into investments and standards.”
The world’s governments agreed last year at the historic Rio+20 Summit to adopt universally applicable Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015. To support this agreement, the SDSN has mobilized global technical expertise to identify ten “priority challenges” or potential goals, each accompanied by a set of targets, which can guide global efforts to achieve sustainable development during the period 2015-2030. A stand-alone goal on cities will serve to “mobilize and bring together the efforts of multiple actors and stakeholders such as local authorities, national governments, businesses, knowledge institutions and civil society across a range of urban issues such as disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.”
In his recent PA Times post, “Nonprofits and the Federal Government Working Together,” long-time ASPA member Doug Kleine shares insights on how cooperative agreements can be more agile alternatives to to the normal competitive bidding and contract process for small organizations. Some examples in the training area include: 1) the National Association of Housing Cooperatives working with regional US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offices on exercising supervision of co-ops with federally insured mortgages, and 2) the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) providing regional training workshops to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on technical requirements developed by the Agricultural Research Service.
On more analytic matters, the Entomological Society of America received funds from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to develop a list of invasive insects, why they were a danger and what steps the public can take to stop their spread. Again, the SWCS assisted the Agricultural Research Service in developing priority topics for its research In another collaboration, the SWCS worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service of USDA to convene multiple “listening sessions” and public meetings to get local producer input into what was working and not working with conservation programs.
There are lots more brief illustrations of how nonprofits can find work that aligns with their mission and core competencies, including:
- The Community Associations Institute (CAI) working with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and HUD
- SWCS and a subcontractor working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and a foundation
- The Community Associations Institute working with the VA
Collaborative Governance at the Local Level: Pilot Project
Last month, we posted three governance reform items focused on efforts to promote improved public management practice. These included:
- “Election Reform in Lebanon: An Insider’s Perspective” – a commentary by Gilbert Doumit and Carmen Geha
- “Governance Reform and Improved Practice in Slovenia” – my book review of Slovenian Democratic Evolution & Praxis by Milo Haček, Marjan Brezovše & Simona Kukovič“
- “Education Reform in Uzbekistan” – a blog posted on the American Councils for International Education (ACIE) Web site by Feruza Masharipova
Over the past months, ASPA’s Section for Public Management Practice and the University of Central Florida’s School of Public Administration have been working with the Romanian Magazine of Local Public Administration to develop a week-long, pilot exchange project that offers local elected officials and public servants from across Romania the chance to meet directly with professional public management counterparts in a variety of settings. The practice-oriented event – Collaborative Governance at the Local Level: Good Governance Exchange between Romania & USA – has been designed for municipal level leaders to gain exposure to alternative strategic public management models on a range of priority topics. As you can see by the draft agenda – still in the development stage as we reach out to speakers, moderators and a variety of site visit candidates – the professional development exchange is set for Orlando, Florida from October 7 through October 11, 2013.
By meeting directly with a wide array of public managers and other subject matter experts, visitors from Romania expect to engage their American counterparts in such areas as:
- Formal structure of government at different levels – including roles of elected and appointed officials, career civil servants, legislative bodies, etc. and relationships between all interested parties
- Public policy making and the interface of elected officials and their interests with government organizations and the private and nonprofit sectors – including participation and business engagement in local development
- Internal Public Administration – including strategic planning & development, budget & financial management, human resources management, information technology management, acquisition management, etc.
- External Affairs – including citizen engagement, public affairs/information, transparency and interaction with the media – particularly in the electronic age, community engagement (including ethnic & religious minorities, LGBT community, etc.), inter-governmental relations, public-private partnerships, NGO collaborations, interaction with other branches of government and related oversight bodies, etc.
- Infrastructure – including public works, roads, transportation, etc.
- Housing – including issues of homelessness
- Energy & Environment – including issues of climate change and related emergency management challenges
- Emergency Management – both natural disasters and other volatile events
- Public Health
- Public Safety & Security
Already in the planning stages, our Romanian counterparts are working with us to bring another delegation of public managers to ASPA’s 2014 conference to participate in the Section’s pre-conference forum – focused on governance reform around the world – and other panels with an emphasis on cross-sector collaboration. We are also working with other Sections and the International Chapter on related panel proposals due to ASPA early next month. Let us know of your interest if you plan to attend the event in Washington DC next March.
Invitation to Contribute
If these good governance stories and projects inspire you to share your experiences – particularly best practice case illustrations from here in the States or from around the world – please let us know about them and help contribute to the growth of our global community of practice. You can contribute an article, blog post, video, interview or commentary by submitting your idea or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good Governance Worldwide